This is how it all started in 1916 - Heading to the 2024 CONMEBOL Copa America™️



  • Heading to the 2024 CONMEBOL Copa America™️ is a content series that brings together the historical facts of the competition, as a tribute to its protagonists and a warm-up for the next edition.
  • Uruguay became the first CONMEBOL Copa America™️ champion in 1916.

The history of the CONMEBOL Copa America™️ commenced in 1916, with the inaugural ‘South American Championship’ taking place in Argentina, which saw participation from Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay, alongside the host team. The Uruguayans emerged as victors in the city of Buenos Aires.

The tournament was played from the 2nd to the 17th of July, aligning with the establishment of CONMEBOL on July 9th, and coinciding with the festivities commemorating the centenary of Argentine independence.

The opening match between Uruguay and Chile took place at the Gimnasia y Esgrima Stadium in Buenos Aires, situated within the Palermo neighbourhood, which was regarded as the finest in South America during that period. The estimated attendance reached 3,000 people. The Racing Club de Avellaneda also served as a venue for the tournament.

Uruguayan José Piendibene netted the first goal in the history of the tournament, in the 44th minute of the first half. The match concluded with the ‘Celeste’ winning 4-0.

Uruguay’s debut also marked the first time a national football team included Afro-descendant players in its lineup, a significant milestone in the history of the sport. The individuals were Isabelino Grandín and Juan Delgado.

Grandín was the leading goal scorer of the tournament with three goals. He was a swift-footed forward, actually so swift that he held the South American records in the 200 and 400 meters at the time.

The tournament followed a round-robin format, and the Uruguayans were crowned champions following two victories and a goalless draw against Argentina in the final round, converting six goals and conceding only one. Overall, 18 goals were scored across the six matches, averaging three goals per game.

As for the kits, Argentina and Uruguay already wore their traditional colours: light blue with white stripes for the Argentines, and full light blue for the Uruguayans. The distinctions were evident with Brazil, who sported a green and yellow striped shirt, and Chile, who wore white with a centered shield.

As a curious fact, it is worth mentioning that due to the absence of referees, the match between Argentina and Chile was officiated by Sidney Pullen, a Brazilian footballer.

Furthermore, the Chilean coach and manager, Carlos Fanta, refereed the last three matches of the tournament, in which his team did not play.